Discovery Park

This morning we rose bright and early, and then I fell straight back to sleep and didn’t get out of bed until 9. We wandered through Ballard to a bakery close to our friend’s place, then walked back and had breakfast, before heading over to Discovery Park for a short walk.

Discovery Park is a five-hundred-and-something acre park on a peninsula jutting out into the Puget Sound; it used to be a military base but is now solely for recreation, apart from the lighthouse on the north-west corner. (The lighthouse isn’t a beautiful beacon signalling to worried sailors, but just a squat, two storey building with some electronic equipment quivering inside. It’s ok, but not a wonderful thing to trek out to look at.)

There are various trails around the park; we chose to take the 2.1 mile loop, because I was toting 22 pounds of baby on my back and didn’t want to yomp for too long; with my parents and sister flying into Seattle today, I wanted to be fresh and ready to meet them when they arrived at the hotel.

However, we got a bit lost, or took a wrong turn somewhere, and ended up tramping over 4 miles, and almost the entire perimeter of Discovery Park, finally getting back to the visitor centre where our cars were parked at four in the afternoon. On the way back, La Serpiente Negra’s patience finally broke, and she spent a good mile and a half haranguing me at top volume. All offers of food, affection and concern were rejected, so in the end I put my foot down and strode off ahead of the rest of our group, so I could get to the end of the trail quicker and let her out of her neoprene and nylon prison. Annoyingly, though she’d howl at ear splitting volume and destroy all the peace of the forest, every time we passed a stranger she would shut up, as though she was taking care to be on her best behaviour in front of new people, but utterly careless of my feelings. Oh well.

We got to the beach earlier in our walk, and she enjoyed licking pebbles. With her fourth tooth appearing, she’s constantly looking for things to suck upon. While she was gainfully employed doing this, the men skimmed rocks into the water. Well, I say the men; two of them showed great proficiency at skimming rocks across the surface, managing five or six splashes per rock, whereas my combination of a stiff arm and a poor choice of trajectory meant my contribution to this was lobbing rocks into the water and watching them splash once every time. I am nothing if not consistent.

There were quite a few joggers about on the trails as we headed away from the beach. They were all gloomy people, faces like bulldogs chewing on wasps. Perhaps they were angry to have to share the trail with other people (perhaps they were refugees or refuseniks from the Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon, which was today). Perhaps the appearance of ‘civilians’ like us, wobbling around on the trails rather than wearing spandex and huffing and puffing, was offensive. I was tempted to run alongside some of the joggers for a bit, engaging them in conversation. “Hi, it looks like you’re doing some exercise… going for a run, are you? … not going very fast … no, I’m only carrying a baby on my back and wearing jeans, I wondered what your excuse was …” and so on until my jackassery got me punched in the mouth by an irate exercise fiend. But I worried this would make my baby annoyed at me too.

Returning, I found I was sunburned. Those couple of hours on the trail in the sunshine had been enough to pinken the skin on my arms, and I spent much of tonight in painful slapstick, walking into exposed door jambs or scraping into things, until I could do nothing else but yelp. This was quite surprising to me, because my previous visit to Discovery Park had been in the depths of winter, but I suppose even the gentle sun of Seattle can be a little cruel if you don’t take proper precautions.

Tonight, our first night in a proper, proper bed since the airport hotel in Hong Kong. That’s a lot of time on creaky mattresses in cheap hotels, sleeping bags on the ground and the Red Lion in Bellevue. I’m hoping I’m rewarded with plenty of sleep.

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